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The Size vs. Health Trade-off in Lower-Income Households’ Food Choices — The Case of Fluid Milk

Selected Paper prepared for presentation at the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association’s 2013 AAEA & CAES Joint Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, August 4-6, 2013.

Abstract

The debate around the healthfulness of food choices for low-income households is still a relevant point of contention for policymakers as they aim to provide tools to incentivize consumption of healthier foods in different ways. Using fluid milk as a case study, and one year of household-level weekly milk purchases data in the Northeastern U.S., we assess the demand for milk of households with income levels above and below poverty, across fat content and packaging size. We find estimated own-price elasticities differing little across samples of households: even in cases where differences emerge, the estimated values, along with price differences experienced by purchasing households do not seem to justify the different purchasing patterns of the two household groups. Household characteristics however show differences in impacting the demand of milk across households with different income levels.

Authors

(Authors listed in alphabetical order; senior authorship is shared.)

Full Text

The complete working paper is available as a PDF download here. 

Acknowledgements

This research was partially funded by the USDA/NIFA under Global Food Security Grant No. 2011-68004-30057 (Enhancing the Food Security of Underserved Populations in the Northeast U.S. through Sustainable Regional Food Systems Development) and the Agricultural Experiment Station of The Pennsylvania State University, which are thankfully acknowledged. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and may not be attributed to USDA or the Economic Research Service.